Located in the Sahara desert, in the small oasis town of M’hamid El Ghizlane, this new music program is focusing on preserving valuable ancestral cultural knowledge, and provides music education to the youth in this remote area of Morocco. The Joudour Sahara Music School is an ambitious project, that includes the construction of facilities embedded in this beautiful natural environment. As we launch the fundraising campaign for the construction of these facilities, we will humbly begin classes this week with students and local and international musicians performing at the Festival Taragalte out in the sand dunes of the sahara, music's most natural environment here in M'hamid.
In 2008, brothers and Moroccan natives Halim and Ibrahim Sbai founded the Festival Taragalte, a celebration the cultural heritage of the Moroccan Sahara. Prior to starting the festival, the brothers had been involved with cultural and environmental work in the region since 2005 with the Dutch-based company, Sahara Roots.
In it’s first year, Festival Taragalte featured the iconic Saharan blues band Tinariwen, and from that point forward, Taraglate became a mainstay in Morocco. They have since joined forces with two of the two biggest festivals in West Africa, the Festival of the Desert and the Festival of Sego Sur le Niger in Mali, to create the Cultural Caravan of Peace, where artists from each country band together to perform at each festival and promote the message of peace and tolerance and the diverse culture found throughout the Sahara and Sahel.
Fast-forward to 2015, when PFCF Board member Stacie Freasier visited Morocco and became enamored of the musical richness of the region. She subsequently connected with the Sbai brothers and began conversations about the potential of a music school being created in their hometown of M’hamid El Ghizlane. Since then, a core team has been assembled that includes of Freasier, PFCF's Director of African Programs Francois Viguie, former Peace Corps Volunteer Thomas Duncan, Moroccan-born architect and TED Fellow Aziza Chaouni, and president of Sahara Roots, Wanda Hebly. These advisors on the Joudour Sahara Music School represent a vast wealth of knowledge and experience on the education and development of youth in M’hamid.
VIDEO OVERVIEW: LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT
LIFE IN THE COMMUNITY
For the residents of M’hamid, life is defined by the desert and the oasis. A rich cultural diversity exists here and throughout the region due to the migration of tribes from different parts of Africa and the Arab world centuries ago, mixing with the indigenous Amazigh population. These tribes proudly pass down their traditions and lifestyles, and an environment of peace and tolerance is a fundamental aspect of the community, entrenched among the locals over a long period of time.
MEET WITH MARYAM
Maryam loves to sing Roksa music, the traditional music of her tribe, the Arib. She says that at the Joudour Sahara Music School, she wishes that she can learn how to sing other types of traditional music
BUILDING SUCCESS IN M'HAMID
Joudour Sahara has become the sole public space that provides girls an outlet for creativity and self-expression, teamwork building and skills development.